Rakshabandhan… This word in itself says a lot many things. It’s the tender love of a sister for her brother along with the mischievous teases given in return. It’s the belief in a single strand of thread mixed with the power of a lifelong promise. It’s the joy of arrival of gifts blended with the duties of being a brother. In simpler words, it is the sweetest part of the year…
The history of this festival dates back to ancient times. Around 14th century, when the Indian society was divided into four different sects, namely Kshatriyas, Brahmins, Vaishyas and Shudras, the concept of Rakshabandhan bubbled up. It was mainly regarded as the festival of Brahmins. Initially, the Brahmins (whose job was to teach children, and also to perform religious activities) used to tie a strand of thread on the hands of Kshatriyas (the warriors) and in return they would vow to protect the Brahmins for the rest of their lives. But as time fossilised and old customs waned, this practice was adopted by sisters and the festival was renamed as Rakshabandhan (or Rakhi).
Rakhi is celebrated every year on a full moon night (generally in the month of August). But what made this year special was that all of my sisters (except one) were present to celebrate Rakhi with and to extract gifts from me! 😛 And oh boy, what an entertaining mess it was! Not only my brother and sisters were present but also my aunts. So it was a typical family get-together. And seeing the whole family together was nothing but euphoric! 😉
One of the best moments of having a family get-together is the weird and exciting feeling you get when someone is about to reach your house (and seize your bed for a few days) 😛 and you are waiting for their arrival, ready to hop on them the minute they turn up! I experienced that capricious behaviour thrice (one of my sisters gave me a surprise by reaching a day before her scheduled arrival!) 😀
When everyone was together, during the day, most of the time was spent shopping, visiting other relatives, eating, ‘sight-seeing’, taking selfies, shopping and eating again. But the nights were reserved for talking. The whole panchayat used to gather around ten o’clock and talk till one…half past one…and two. We used to just talk and talk and talk. Once in a while, in between, there happened to be a match of UNO, or two. But most of the time the panchayat was busy doing panchayat.
Enough of all this! 😛 Let’s get back to the main topic… Rakhi!! OK, I’ve told you what Rakhi is, so now let’s get on to how we celebrated it.
There were six of us; two (including me!) brothers (in Hindi: Bhai) one sister-in-law (Bhabhi) and three sisters (Didi). So I, Bhai and Bhabhi sat down facing our small ‘in-house’ temple and then, one by one, our sisters tied us rakhis. Tying the rakhi isn’t the only thing. First you have to put tilak on your brother’s forehead, followed by tying the rakhi on the wrist, and finally ending the ritual by exchanging sweets and gifts!! 🙂
I have four cousin sisters and four cousin brother. Out of which only three sisters and one brother were present. So in total, I had four rakhis tied round my wrist (I received one from the post) and had got four gifts!!! 😀
After the ‘tying rakhi session’, we had the ‘gift opening session’! 😛 You should have seen the ecstatic faces and expressions of my cousins when they opened their gifts, one after the other. It was chaotic to be frank. Everyone opening their presents all at once! You really had to move your head continuously, so that you don’t miss all the drama. In the end, all that was left was a huge pile of enthusiasm and oodles of gift-wrappers! 😉
These few days were both bliss and a brisk (I don’t even know if that fits!). And biding my amusingly whimsical family adieu was sad, but the promise of another reunion, soon, did the job of uplifting our moods… 🙂